No team did a better job of systematically filling the holes in their roster during free agency than the Jets did. They had a ton of cap room and spread it around, hitting every position of need.
Well, almost every position. What they accomplished does give them the freedom to take the mythical “best available player” and it allows them to avoid big reaches in any round. But they do still have a few very obvious positions they’ll need to fill – and probably early in the draft.
Here’s a look at how the Jets might do that and more in my first try of the offseason at a full, 7-Round Mock Draft:
First round (4th overall) – Oregon DE Kayvon Thibodeaux
He has become one of the most difficult “top” prospects to project in years, because he has a love-him-or-hate-him feel among NFL executives and scouts. The 6-foot-4, 254-pounder is no doubt an explosive pass rusher who is smart, likeable and overflowing with confidence. Yet some scouts have questioned his “fire” and others think he lacks the necessary NFL-caliber pass rush moves. He once was considered the likely No. 1 pick. Now some think he’ll come close to slipping out of the Top 10.
What do the Jets think? It’s hard to say. GM Joe Douglas sure seemed to signal he wants a pass rusher with one of his two first-round picks, and everyone knows Robert Saleh wants more talent on his defensive line. Saleh doesn’t think there’s a Nick Bosa or Chase Young in this draft, but that doesn’t mean he’s down on the class either. Thibodeaux has a lot of talent, and could be a great complementary piece to the returning Carl Lawson. And despite all the knocks against Thibodeaux, it’s hard to see him slipping to the Jets’ second pick at 10, so if he’s there at 4, it’s now or never.
First round (10th overall) – Ohio State WR Garrett Wilson
Ask anyone in the NFL and they’ll tell you the Jets are planning to use one of their first-round picks on a wide receiver, and it sure does look that way. Their big run at Tyreek Hill showed how much they want one more dynamic weapon to help out Zach Wilson, and with this pick, they should be able to get the top receiver on their board.
It’s possible that it could end up being USC’s Drake London, the 6-foot-4, 219-pounder who gives the Jets the size element some think they prefer. But Hill isn’t big. He’s just explosive. And that’s what the 6-foot, 183-pound Wilson is – explosive. He’s got 4.38 speed and an Odell Beckham Jr.-like knack for separating from a defender as soon as the ball is in his hands. A speedy, slippery duo of Wilson and Elijah Moore could put a ton of pressure on opposing secondaries. By the way, if A.J. Brown or D.K. Metcalf suddenly become available in trade before the draft, the Jets will likely do whatever they can to get them. If they do, they obviously won’t take a receiver here.
Second round (35th overall) – Penn State S Jaquan Brisker
The Jets’ once-dynamic safety duo of Jamal Adams and Marcus Maye are gone and not a lot is left in their place. The Jets did sign Jordan Whitehead in free agency and brought back 31-year-old Lamarcus Joyner, but the rest of the cupboard is questionable, if not bare. Ashtyn Davis, a third-round pick from Douglas’ first draft, hasn’t realized his potential yet.
The 6-foot-1, 199-pound Brisker could take his place. He’s got the necessary size and toughness and he’s got both a nose for the ball and the intelligence to know where to be. The Jets have some young cornerbacks with potential. It’s time they add some of that to their safety ranks, too.
Second round (38th overall) – Western Michigan WR Skyy Moore
Two receivers in the first two rounds? Maybe it’s overkill, but this is a passing league and nothing is more important than making sure Zach Wilson is surrounded by enough talent to succeed. The Jets beefed up their line, bought him two tight ends in free agency, have a few good running backs, but they clearly know they’re lacking at receiver. The 5-foot-10, 195-pound Moore has impressed scouts with his ability to separate. He’s drawn comparisons to Elijah Moore, though he’s probably more of a true slot receiver in the NFL. Yes, the Jets re-signed Braxton Berrios, but adding a slot receiver would allow Berrios to be more of the gadget receiver and return man that he’s been. Also, Corey Davis is very cuttable after this season, so the more young receivers the Jets can add for the future, the better.
Third round (69th overall) – Georgia RB James Cook
Michael Carter proved to be quite a find for the Jets during his rookie season, but the Jets’ offense runs on a committee of running backs. That’s the way it was in San Francisco and that’s what offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur wants to do here. The Jets did bring Tevin Coleman back, but his injuries the last few years make him a short- and long-term risk. Carter isn’t going to be asked to do everything on his own, which means they need more bodies.
The 5-foot-11, 199-pound Cook would seem to be the perfect complement. He’s not built to take an inside pounding, but he’s got the moves and the speed to be an ideal change-of-pace back. He also has the skills to be a good receiver. And while he’s not quite as explosive as his big brother, Dalvin, he’s got enough burst to burn defenses if they don’t catch him on the first try.
Fourth round (111th overall) – Oklahoma G Marquis Hayes
It will probably be hard for Douglas to go through three rounds and five picks without taking an offensive lineman, but that just shows what a good job he’s done of building the unit he has. It’s no longer an area of desperate need. They may still want to add young players they can develop, but their starting five and probably their Top 7 are all set.
That makes this a perfect spot for a developmental player like the 6-foot-5, 318-pound Hayes who is a little raw but has the toughness and intensity to be strong interior blocker. The Jets got a good look at him at the Senior Bowl, where he had a strong week under the guidance of the Jets’ coaches. Some scouts say he’s built more like a tackle, but he played guard at college and will probably stick there in the pros.
Fourth round (117th overall) – Cincinnati CB Coby Bryant
The Jets added D.J. Reed to their corner group in free agency, and they really do like the young ones they have – Bryce Hall, Michael Carter II and Brandin Echols. But that doesn’t mean they won’t add more.
The 6-foot-1, 191-pound Bryant could be a sleeper since he was overlooked a lot with all the attention on his Bearcat teammate, Ahmad ‘Sauce’ Gardner. There are also some concerns about his speed, though he ran a good 4.54 at the combine to alleviate some of those. He’s terrific at reading routes and had seven interceptions the last two seasons. He could add some nice competition to an already promising group. And he’s another one whom the Jets coached at the Senior Bowl, so they know him well.
Fifth round (146th overall) – Tulsa T/G Chris Paul
His 4.89 in the 40 yard dash was the second fastest time for an offensive lineman at the combine this year, and just ridiculous for a 6-foot-4, 323-pound man. Speed doesn’t get a lineman drafted high, though, and there are some concerns about Paul’s reaction time and technique. Still, scouts love his character and rave about how coachable he is. So consider him a raw prospect who played mostly tackle for the Golden Hurricanes, but probably has the body for an NFL guard. A lineman-loving GM like Douglas will see a lot to work with here.
Fifth round (163rd overall) – UCLA DT Otito Ogbonnia
The Jets replaced Foley Fatukasi with Solomon Thomas in the middle of their defensive line, but they still need an influx of young talent for their future rotation next to Quinnen Williams. The 6-foot-4, 324-pound Ogbonnia is big and strong – in fact, he was an international shot put champion at the 2019 U20 Pan Am championships. His future is as a run-stuffer because he doesn’t have the burst to be a strong interior pass rusher (he had 4 ½ sacks in 36 career college starts). He could be a good developmental prospect for the Jets. And yes, he’s another of their Senior Bowl alumni.